June 30, 2006

Letters to the Editor

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Reader: Without Jesus, death is an enemy and cannot be good or happy

I very much enjoyed the two excellent articles in the April 21 issue of The Criterion dealing with the so-called good or happy death.

Not mentioned in them, though, is the reason our deaths can be good or happy: Not because we die at home or are free from pain or even because we are surrounded by our loved ones when we die—comforting as those things undoubtedly are—but because our Lord suffered unto death so that we might be happy with him forever.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1008 and #1009) says “Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium ... teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin. Even though man’s nature is mortal, God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin. Bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned is thus the last enemy of man left to be conquered.

“Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father’s will. The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.”

Without Jesus, death is an enemy and a curse and cannot be good, happy or beautiful. Through him, and only through him, can death be good or happy because it can become the door to eternal and blissful life.

Finally, the articles also did not mention that in a speech given a little more than a year before his own death, Pope John Paul II made it clear he believed that “the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate [as opposed to extraordinary or disproportionate], and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality.”

And, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (#2279) says, “Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.”

I am grateful for your wonderful publication.

- Thomas Tarzian, Bloomington

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